There and back again

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Travelling with a camera and bringing it and lots of memorable images home is one of my greatest joys. To get the most out of a photo journey, we need to think about a few things before we go.

  • Planning and prepping
  • What to take with you, what to leave at home
  • If you have new items in your gear, you should think about getting a Canada Customs record (or similar document) so coming home isn’t an issue
  • Security

Planning

Before you go, find out all you can about where you are going and what you might see while you’re there. Having this information will help you decide what equipment you may need to have at hand to make the most of your journey photographically.

Use the internet, read books like Lonely Planet and other travel guides. One caveat here, these travel guides are written by travellers. That can be great if you share a common interest with the authors otherwise, you might get a lot of information about the best surfing in Portugal and little to no info on historical landmarks.

Look for existing pictures of places you might visit. Just because someone took a picture of it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t, yours will be different and personal. Analysing existing images can help you determine how to approach your journey. It may be the case that the place you thought you wanted to see isn’t as good as a lesser known location.

Planning is good, but don’t be tied to the plan, serendipity can drop opportunities into your field of view. Your plan is only a rough approximation of where you need to be and what you think you’re going to record, you can be flexible with everything except transportation and lodging reservations paid in advance.

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The process of composing

Much of the process of composing an image is intuitive and second nature with experience, but like any other tool, we can become complacent in its use. Composition needs to be forefront in our minds while we are capturing light to make good or great images.

It starts before you raise the camera to your eye. Evaluate your potential image, what compels you to focus on that particular scene? Does your eye travel through the scene? Does your eye return to one part of the scene repeatedly? Talk to yourself about what you see. Our goal is to visualize the end result, with practice, we will be able to see the final image before we sue the camera.

Sometimes this phase happens in seconds, sometimes it has to happen in seconds or the shot is lost. Other times it takes days or months or even years.

Eventually, it’s time to bring the camera into play, this is where we frame the shot. Does it still look like the image you visualized?

What’s in and what’s out? What you leave out is often as important as what you leave in.

Is it the right time to take the shot? Is the light still good, has the weather changed, etc.

Next we’ll look at the elements of composition.